I walked into Hip City Veg before the Penn medical student lunch hour rush. On a normal day, you’ll either hear classic hits from the 70s or 80s, or just the song “Gold” by Spandau Ballet. Disregarding their radio selection, I noted that indeed, as its neon sign radiates over the cashier’s counter, that I do “look great.”
The cashiers simultaneously greeted me as I walked through the glass door and past the communal wooden table with stools fit for Hobbits. They asked how my day was going, and I suspected they thought I go to Penn. I gave them my order, the fajita wrap with sweet potato fries, and surreptitiously hid my DragonCard as I paid them.
The first and last criticism I will make of Hip City Veg, that unfortunately is for most Drexel students like myself and the rest of Philadelphia, is that the prices are a tad high and seemed to be targeted at Penn students and Center City’s skyscraper residents at its other location in Rittenhouse Square. However, what I’m about to say will cancel this small annoyance outright.
The menu will make your pancreas cry tears of insulin! Every bite of the Crispy HipCity Ranch sandwich will cure gingivitis—I overheard a Penn dental student saying so. Every ounce of the orangesicle milkshake will lubricate your funny bone and make you think Drexel was a good choice after all, but that’s probably just milkshake talking—unless you’re wearing your milkshake goggles, and everything looks better.
As I waited for my wrap, a tasty festival of faux “chick’n,” onions, peppers, cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado and chipotle crema, I couldn’t help but look outside Hip City’s storefront windows and feel like I’m on an actual campus. With a clean and friendly looking space to eat and people watch, it’s no wonder that this restaurant seems busy all the time.
But the wrap is not the only thing I’ve ordered from here in the past. Their Bistro Bella, for instance, is another amazing sandwich made with a grilled portobella mushroom, herb dijon glaze, olive tapenade, red onion, tomato, artichoke and arugula. A new item that I haven’t seen before, but definitely will go back to taste in the next week or so, is the Chick’n Club. In this sandwich that sounds better suited for a golf course, there is a better-that-the-real-thing soy chicken substitute, smoked tempeh, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and organic mayo—enough sandwich to take two strokes off your game!
Hip City Veg isn’t all just sandwiches and burgers though—their salads could tempt even Adam and Eve again! My favorite is the udon noodle salad, which has spicy glazed chick’n, sprouts, arugula, carrot, cabbage, daikon radish, scallions, peanuts and Chinese black bean dressing. Another salad that hits the spot is the arugula taco salad with black beans, corn, pico de gallo, tortillas, avocado and cilantro dressing.
In case you haven’t quite filled that empty void deep in your intestines (probably because you’re not vegan … yet), top off your cruelty-free meal with a Groothie. It’s a smoothie made with apples, leafy greens, bananas and seasonal fruit. Sound too healthy? Just get a banana whip and add toppings, or look at their vegan brownies and cupcakes that are sure to make you drool all over yourself.
Don’t let Penn students scare you! Hip City Veg is for all, and remember, a meat-free meal a day keeps the bad factory farms away!
Hip City Veg has two locations, located at 214 S. 40th Street and 127 S. 18th Street.